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Aim Higher

Sep 10 / Lea Madjoff


Original Source:

This article was featured in Wellness Wednesday from Ulliance

An extra helping of leafy-greens is gBlog Post 9-10-14ood for your heart.  Eating fruit every day can lower risk of heart disease by up to 40%, new research suggests.

A new study that looked at more than 451,680 participants over seven years asked the group to report their fruit consumption, whether it be never, monthly, 1-3 days per week, 4-6 days per week, or daily.  The researchers found that compared to people who never eat fruit, those who eat fruit every day cut their heart disease risk by 25% to 40%.  Those who ate the most amount of fruit also had much lower blood pressure compared to the participants who never ate fruit.

The study is not the first to find a connection between eating fruit and having better heart health. One study of about 110,000 men and women over 14 years found that people who eat fruit and vegetables every day had a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and some studies have found that citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruits have especially protective benefits.

Next time you’re in need of a snack, grab an apple over a bag of chips. It’s surely not the last time science will say it.

Sep 3 / Lea Madjoff

Become a Positive Power

Orginal Source:

This article was featured in Wellness Wednesday from Ulliance

Post September 3rd 3 PM

No one wants to be — or be around — a Negative Nancy. Positive people encourage others to be happier and more comfortable with themselves because their energy is contagious. And with all the adversity we face in our lives, it’s no wonder that kind of outlook is appealing.  Studies show optimism certainly has its benefits. And even though it’s always possible to find the negatives in a situation, there are a few ways to cultivate the sort of mindset where you choose to see the positives. (After all, as Oscar Wilde once said, “We’re all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”)

So how do we become a positive power wherever we go? Try these science-backed strategies:

Put kindness first.
We never forget the times people show compassion toward us, whether it’s a genuine smile from a stranger when we look down, or a friend who surprises us with ice cream and a movie after we’ve just been dumped. And turns out, it’s not just the recipient of kindness who experiences benefits — research shows those simple, empathetic behaviors make us happier, too.

Talk to someone you don’t know.
While we tend to ignore those we don’t know, a recent study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests we should be doing the opposite for the sake of our happiness. Researchers found that talking to strangers increases positive experiences through feelings of social connectedness. Step outside of your comfort zone and strike up a conversation with someone new in the room — you just might find yourself in a happier mood.

Go for a walk down memory lane.
Letting our minds wander back to our glory days has a way of making us feel warm and fuzzy inside — and there’s a reason for it. According to research published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, feeling nostalgic about the past will increase optimistic feelings for the future (and as optimists well know, the best is yet to come).

Take charge.
Those with optimistic attitudes have an innate ability to bring out joy in others, and as a result, they’re incredibly effective leaders. People who look on the bright side tend to be more inspiring communicators and have a way of rallying others around them to see the positive, Forbes points out. These kinds of leaders don’t just know what it takes to get tasks done — they encourage others around them to optimistically do the same.

Be mindful of your body language.
The secret to a positive attitude may just start with positive posture. Research suggests that uncrossing your arms, standing tall and having a more approachable demeanor can all be positive marks of confidence. Studies also show that even just the simple act of smiling can make you seem more open (not to mention it can also boost your mood).

Listen more than you speak.
Good listening skills are a quiet, yet coveted power — and being a good listener also conveys positivity.  When you listen, you open up your ability to take in more knowledge versus blocking the world with your words or your distracting thoughts.  You are also demonstrating confidence and respect for others. Knowledge and confidence is proof that you are secure and positive with yourself, thus radiating positive energy.

Open yourself up to positive thoughts.
It’s natural for us to dwell on the negative, but the truth is, we all have the capacity to look at life through a glass half full. The key to being a positive force is to open yourself up to like-minded thoughts. One way to do that? Practice gratitude. Studies show reflecting on what you’re thankful for can make you a happier, more positive person. And when’s the last time anyone hated counting their blessings?

Aug 27 / Lea Madjoff

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer


Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Why I walk

Hello Wellness Warriors!

I just signed up for a really important event, but it’s one I don’t want to do alone. I’d love it if you’d join me at the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. Making Strides events bring together millions of people in more than 300 communities nationwide to help finish the fight against breast cancer.

Why am I walking and why do I want you to join me? Thanks in part to the American Cancer Society, and people like you who signed up to fundraise and supported the cause, breast cancer death rates have dropped over the last 20 years. In fact, women are 34 percent less likely to die from breast cancer todaythan they were in 1989. But there’s still a lot of work to do. 1 in 8 women in the US will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

When you support me with a donation or join my team and raise funds, more people in our community will…

  • Benefit from groundbreaking research and new discoveries to find, treat, and cure breast cancer
  • Have a trained Cancer Information Specialist to talk with at any time of the day or night to ask questions and get answers
  • Know the steps they should take to reduce their risk of breast cancer or find it early when it’s easiest to treat
  • Get access to lifesaving mammograms and treatment
  • Benefit from free information and services when and where they need it, like transportation to and from treatment, lodging when treatment is away from home, wigs, support programs, and much more

The first 50 Wellness Warriors that join and have a paid $30 donation online to our Wayne Cares – Wellness Warriors Team will receive a FREE office Making Strides Against Breast Cancer T-shirt!T-shirts will be available for pick-up at WSU the week of the walkPlease feel free to invite your family, friends, and supporters to our team. All are welcomed to join us on October 11th at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.

Can not make the walk on October 11th but still would like to make a difference? By choosing the donation option while under our Wayne Cares – Wellness Warriors Team  page you can still contribute to the cause without participating at the walk.

This progress is only possible one walker and one donation at a time, so please consider joining me or supporting our Wayne Cares Wellness Warrior Team with a donation. Together, we can finish the fight against breast cancer!

Thanks so much!

Wayne State University

Total Compensation and Wellness

Lea Madjoff

Wellness Coordinator and Team Leader

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Aug 13 / Lea Madjoff

The Five Vows for Making Promises

The Five Vows for Making Promises


This article was provided by Ulliance.Conan O'Brien Quote

Every day we make handfuls of commitments. We say we’ll meet friends for drinks or pick up the dry cleaning. We swear we’ll make it to the gym or call our grandmothers. And while these are all great promises, they all have one slightly negative commonality: They sound more like items on a to-do list than actual vows.  If you’re wanting to make promises that are really worth crossing your heart for, try making the five vows below. Then swear not to break them.

I will make a point to notice when life is good.  It’s easy to dwell on the dreary days, the bad workouts, the broken coffee machine and the horrible fights, but the antidote isn’t incessant rumination. Practicing gratitude in spite of the negative is the best way out. Expressing thanks — whether it’s just calling the good to mind or writing it down — can help you deflect bad experiences and cultivate a happier attitude. By promising yourself you’ll look at the good side and being thankful for it, you’re automatically setting yourself up for joy.

I will listen to my body and my mind when I’m stressed out.  Burnout is the disease of our civilization — so how can we prevent ourselves from catching it? When something’s wrong, our bodies tend to scream louder than our minds. It’s important to tune into the warning signs of stress — physical and mental. That includes paying attention to out-of-the-ordinary symptoms like upset stomachs, tight muscles and recurring dreams, and making a promise to tap into those red flags. You may be able to stop (and ultimately avoid) burnout.

I will smile at one stranger today.
Giving a friendly grin isn’t just a simple gesture — it’s an instant wellness booster. Studies have shown that the simple act of smiling can increase your mood, and flashing those pearly whites to a stranger can help you feel more connected. By promising to smile at someone once a day, you’re not only helping yourself, you’re boosting the morale of others. And doesn’t that feel good?

I will be kind to myself.
Whether it’s your appearance or your abilities, you deserve to be treated respectfully –and that includes the thoughts you have about yourself. Research shows that self-acceptance is paramount to a happier life, but it’s the habit we tend to practice the least. Make a vow to be kinder to the person staring back at you in the mirror.

I will try my best.  We’re often our own worst critics when it comes to estimating our abilities, so make a promise to yourself today that you’re going to take control of that criticism. Shame-based thoughts get us nowhere, and soon they affect more than our capabilities at work.

The labels we give ourselves are the ones that stick — and it’s better to accept what your best is than put down what you’re not.  Observing without judgment can move you to see yourself in new, objective terms and can lead to greater understanding and acceptance of yourself without the negative labels.  A consequence will be greater compassion toward others and more positive relationships.

Jul 30 / Lea Madjoff

Strategies in Preventing the Weight Loss-weight Gain Cycle

Strategies in Preventing the Common Cycle of Yearly Weight Loss-Weight Gain


This article was provided by Ulliance.

There is a common yearly weight-loss, weight-gain cycle:  August is second to December in the rate of weight-gain, with September being second to January in weight loss. Why is this, and how can you change and benefit by recognizing this cycle?

December is the month that people gain the most weight: for four weeks, you are faced with holidays, gatherings, office parties, excess food, drink, and too many sugary items. Meanwhile, you’re thinking, “I’ll wait until January.”  In August the summer eating challenges have taken control, resolves are weakened, and many people overindulge in barbecues, vacations and picnics thinking “I’ll just wait until September.”
Let’s take a look at what some have found to be the common cycle of yearly weight loss-weight gain:

January: You make a resolution, and a promise to yourself or to others, to eat better, exercise, lose weight, drink water, eat vegetables, stop drinking… etc., etc.  February: You realize you have not kept your promises, or that you have made too many promises and it is unrealistic, and you fall back into old habits.  March: You have the winter doldrums and you eat too many calorie-laden items waiting for the spring season to feel renewed again.

April: Changes in weather begin to happen, days are longer and more daylight is welcomed. Once again you make a promise to think about losing weight.  May: Spring is here bringing lighter clothing, and more outside activities. You want to lose weight, eat better, and exercise because you will be wearing less clothing in warmer weather. Your weight-loss resolve is back.  June: BBQ and picnic season are here, and although grilling meat is a healthier way to eat, BBQ’s and picnics tend to offer salads loaded with mayo, chips and dips, carbohydrates, and fancy alcoholic drinks.

July: BBQ, beach, vacation and pool-side season is in full swing. Each offers an abundance of food, drink, and merriment. Your schedule is more relaxed, and your eating is more relaxed, too, leading to some overeating and drinking.  August: BBQ, beach, pool, and vacation season is still in full swing but as August days pass you think, “I’ll wait until September to pay attention to my eating again. It’s only a few more weeks.” In those weeks, with a give-up attitude, you once again begin to gain weight.  September: Children and teachers are back in school, and you’re into a routine. You begin to care about your eating and exercise level again, and are recommitted to your health and weight loss. September is a month of renewal.

October: Weather changes, there is less daylight, and the days get shorter. Every store you walk into has Halloween candy ready for impulse buying. The candy is eaten the entire month of October and this begins to weaken your resolve again.  November: You enter November having eaten too many sweets the weeks before. You start to plan for Thanksgiving, and by the time the holiday arrives you are busy with visiting family or family visiting, and Thanksgiving becomes an eating adventure.  December: By now you have been overeating for a several weeks and it continues throughout the month with the holidays, gatherings, shopping, visiting, and everything else that takes place in December, and you say, “I’ll wait for January to care for my eating.”

January: It begins again…

This is not everyone, but is it you? If you answer yes, no wonder you are not losing the weight. Let’s change the cycle and start with the January resolution, today.

Making a resolution is a promise to yourself or others. Behind every resolution is a desire to achieve a goal. Address the desire! If your resolution is to eat better, exercise, or lose weight, ask yourself: What is my real desire? Your desire may be to become healthier, decrease medication, improve relationships, be happier, become more active and be more successful. Whatever it is, work on satisfying your desire, regardless of the time of year.  When you can acknowledge your desire it will take you throughout the year regardless of the month or events and holidays. Where you are and who you’re with will become irrelevant, and your desire will stay strong.

Eating smart and exercising is the pathway to achieving your desire. Being a healthier, happier, more active or successful person is not what you do. It’s who you are, every month and every meal, starting now.

Jul 18 / Lea Madjoff

Six Mindfulness Habits


This article was provided by Ulliance.

“I just can’t do it.”  The excuses for not engaging in mindfulness are endless — you either don’t know how or worse, you don’t have time. You may think that being mindful on a daily basis is something that’s more of a pipe dream than a reality, but don’t count yourself out so quickly. Mindfulness is simply about being fully present in the moment, whether it’s through meditating or just in conversation. The truth is, some of your everyday habits are mindful at their core — you just didn’t know it. Below are six mindfulness habits you’re probably practicing already.

Paying attention when your child is telling you about her day.  When your little one excitedly scurries into the car and tells you about what games she played on the playground — and you actively respond — you’re practicing mindfulness.  Your awareness (or lack thereof) can have a significant effect on your children.  People often say they have trouble focusing their minds. It’s difficult to be in the moment — especially when we’re parenting and the demands of life also need our attention.  If, as adults, we are having a difficult time managing the distractions that interfere with our ability to focus, it’s not surprising that our children are struggling, too.  Next time your son or daughter animatedly tells you a story, be grateful for the mindfulness you’re already practicing. It makes for amazing memories later on.

Soaking up the sunset on your walk home.  It’s hard not to stare at the sky as the sun casts its final golden glow for the day — and when you stop to appreciate its final moments, you’re actively engaging in a mindful activity.  Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.  And nothing fits that bill better than taking in the beauty of a sunset.

Savoring every bite of that cake.  There’s nothing quite like the sweet taste of your favorite dessert — and if you’re slowly enjoying every last morsel of a rare treat, you’re mastering the art of mindful eating. And that’s not the only benefit of practicing the habit: Being present with your meals and eating slower has been linked to significant weight loss.

Throwing yourself into your weekly softball game.  It’s no secret that many of the world’s best athletes are using mindfulness to help their performance — and it’s paying off. In fact, the actual art of playing the game is mindful in itself.  If you can think about just what’s happening at that moment — saying a little mantra, ‘Just this play, just this kick, just this pass,’ — just keeping your mind on what you need to do that moment, that’s a really good way to practice that mindfulness in the game itself.

Cooking dinner (for yourself or for others).  Cooking is meditation in action. When you’re making a meal, you have the opportunity to be present and aware (because no one actually wants to be distracted while using a sharp knife!). If you’re focused on the task (and the boiling water) in front of you, you’re already more mindful than you think.

Enjoying a nice, long shower at the end of the day.  Chances are you’re grateful for the few moments you get to relax under that steaming water, as you wash away the stress of the day. Those little periods of bliss have mindfulness written all over them — and it’s in a task you’re already doing on a daily basis. A warm shower is the perfect place for a little awareness (plus once you’re done enjoying the moment, it’s also a place where you can do your best thinking).

Jul 9 / Lea Madjoff

Reduce high blood pressure through exercise

In the United States (U.S.), 1 in every 3 adults has high blood pressure according to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention . It has been suggested by recent reports that blood pressure can be reduced and managed by isometric exercise where a joint angle and muscle length do not change during muscular contraction.

One report in particular published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings (201;89 [3], 327-34) reviewed various trails focusing on adults aged 18 and over who completed isometric exercise protocols for at least 4 weeks. The goal of the authors was to measure, “the effects of isometric resistance training on the change in systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and mean arterial pressure in subclinical populations and to examine whether the magnitude of change in SBP and DBP was different with respect to blood pressure classification”.

After analyzing all the data, the authors of the report found that there were improvements in all blood pressure measures. In addition, they found a minor reduction in the participants resting heart rate. The authors were able to conclude that isometric exercise has the potential to reduce blood pressure.

Jul 1 / Lea Madjoff

Recommended snacks for before and after your workout

By fueling your body with the proper nutrition before and after your workout you can maximize your energy availability and results. Below you will found time-inspired pre- and post-workout snack recommendations made by registered dietitians and sport nutrition experts.

Early Bird Workout

Pre-Workout: 1 medium banana and 4-ounce non-fat plain yogurt

Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD, CSSD recommended eating this snack 30 to 60 minutes before your workout routine. Benefits according to research:

  • Helps increase glucose availability near the end of the workout
  • Decreases exercise-induced muscle protein break down

Worried about this meal upsetting your stomach? For alternatives, Muth suggest choosing food items that are low in fat and fiber, which can minimize the stress on your GI during exercise.

Post-Workout: Graham crackers, peanut butter and low fat chocolate milk

Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD recommended eating this snack after a morning workout. Clark makes the following claims:

  • This combination of carbs is the perfect recipe needed to refuel your muscles
  • The protein intake will help repair and rebuild muscles

A heartier alternative: A peanut butter and honey sandwich on whole grain bread with a glass of low-fat milk. The milk is a great source of protein and calcium for healthy bones and muscles.


Afternoon Workout

Pre-Workout: An apple with a hard-boiled egg

To ensure that you stay fueled during a busy day, Lyssie Lakatos, RD and Tammy Lakatos hames, RD suggest having foods that can be readily available. Eating an apple can have the following benefits for your body:

  • Good source for carbohydrates stores that will later be used for energy
  • Will give you a boost of energy before a workout
  • Settles well in your stomach

A hard-boiled egg is a great food item that can last a little longer as a source of fuel for the body’s energy demands.

Post-Workout: Yogurt, an orange, and a red bell pepper

Lyssie Lakatos, RD and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD suggested this combo because they are all foods that can be conveniently grabbed and eaten on the go.

These items have the following health benefits for after a workout:

  • All are high in water, making them hydrating and  refreshing
  • The red bell pepper contains both water and antioxidants that can help repair damage to the muscles and tissues caused from the exercise session
  • The yogurt contains energy-reviving carbohydrates and muscle-building protein; bone-building calcium; and potassium to prevent muscle cramps.
  • The orange also contain potassium and vitamin C, both which can prevent some of the oxidative damage to the muscles and tissues caused from the free radicals developed during exercise


Late-night Workout

Pre-Workout: Banana with 1 tablespoon peanut butter

Kristin Carlucci, RD suggested this snack for in between work and the gym to avoid the hunger before your workout. The protein and healthy fats in the peanut butter will fuel your body through the workout while the carbohydrates in the banana will keep your energy high.

Post-Workout: Mini-meal smoothie (plain nonfat yogurt + mango + pineapple + cinnamon

+ a touch of toasted wheat germ

Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD recommended this snack because it contains the important elements of refueling your body after a workout. The three elements are as followed:

  1. Fluids in the fruits rich in water
  2. Carbohydrates found in the fruit and yogurt
  3. Protein in the yogurt and wheat germ

The fluid in the fruit replenishes the body’s water loss caused by perspiration during a workout. While the carbohydrates replenish the glycogen used during the exercise, which is a benefit to our muscles. In order to replenish the glycogen stores your snack should contain three to four times as many calories from carbohydrates than from protein. However, the amount of protein in this snack can help with making you feel full and could enhance muscle recovery.

Reference: Matthews, J., MS, E-RYT (2012) What should I eat before and after my morning,

afternoon or evening workout?. Ask the Expert blog. Available at Accessed on August 22, 2012.

Jun 25 / Lea Madjoff

Destress – go out for an adventure!

Article provided by Ulliance


You may have recently got daring in a way that you hadn’t been in years.  Maybe it was during a trip for some R & R. As the days passed and you unwound, amazing things happened: you surfed for the first time. You went to a raucous midnight street fair and swam in a cenote (basically a sinkhole). You felt bold, gutsy, alive!  Then you came home and returned to your previously scheduled non-adventurous existence: your daily hour on the elliptical, the oatmeal you eat every morning. Granted, it’s a very satisfying recipe (oats, almond milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, berry compote, brown sugar). Still, you could at least have granola.

When we were younger, excitement seemed to arrive at the door.  But once life’s responsibilities started piling up, we downgraded to weekend warrior.  That pulse-pounding jaunt illuminated just how oddly lopsided life has become. Why cram all the excitement into a trip? Wouldn’t it be more beneficial — not to mention more fun — to zhush up our daily life? Yes, it would!  Research shows that the ability to just view life as a hope-filled, exhilarating adventure represents a tremendous happiness and health advantage.

Why we like to be boring
Now that we’ve hit our mid-40s — with a mortgage, a husband and a preschooler – we’re usually concentrating on getting through the day intact. For some of us, family obligations dampen the rock-climbing spirit that ruled our single years; it’s safer to watch “The Amazing Race” than to test our own limits. And there’s security in routine: When life throws you one crisis after another, at least you can count on your oatmeal.

This craving for order keeps us from striking out on adventures.  One accomplishment of getting older is gaining decision-making power.  We prefer to predict and control — exactly what table we want at the restaurant, the row we want at the movies.  Fear of failure can also make us prisoners of predictability. Children may be game to try anything and fall flat on their butts, but grown-ups get wary.  Many adults believe their physical and mental capabilities are fixed and can’t be improved.  As a result, our goals tend to be about proving ourselves within familiar territory.  Yet research has found that achievements of all kinds are completely within reach if we don’t focus on acing them — but rather relish the process of getting better.

The benefits of breaking out
A major factor in how much we enjoy life is whether we’re learning new things, per a global survey by the Gallup Organization. In fact, the brain’s regions for pleasure light up when presented with novelty. There are health perks, too: Studies have connected curiosity and being open to new experiences with a sharper mind. The more you challenge your brain, the more nerve pathways form — potentially slowing age-related cognitive decline and staving off Alzheimer’s. In one study, students who learned a new language grew more complex white matter, aka the communications network. Another study drew a link between curiosity and longer life expectancy.

Happily, there’s no need to do a Tough Mudder to reap these benefits: you can gain just as much from little thrills as large ones. Think playing tourist in your own town, say yes to the next invite you’d reflexively refuse, try going to parties and movies alone — We limit our experiences when we say we can’t go somewhere by ourselves.

Outdoor activities provide a special buzz, research shows. For one, natural settings boost mood and energy better than the indoors. Thank the rush of fresh oxygen that physically recharges you, and the mentally invigorating change of scenery. You also feel pumped by your efforts.  If you row across a lake, you can see the start and finish — which adds to your sense of achievement.  Yes, jumping into an activity can be intimidating. Expect that it will feel weird at first, but like getting into a pool, it’s usually just the initial shock.  At the very least, you’ll have a decent answer to “What did you do this weekend?” (There are only so many times you can say, “I binge-watched ‘Scandal.’”).  A life lived on the couch isn’t really lived.

This is your body on adventure
When you do something exciting, your brain triggers your nervous system to pump out the hormone norepinephrine.  This accelerates your respiratory and heart rates and releases glucose, making more energy available.  In case you need it for, you know, cliff diving.  The feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine is released, too.  It works on the brain’s reward circuit, providing the sensation of novelty.  Do something physically demanding and your body will also churn out anandamide, known to inhibit fear.  Here come the endorphins. These chemicals help alleviate the pain of rigorous physical adventure — and give you that natural high.

Here are some ideas to start an adventure of your own:

Mini Thrill #1: Try a new lunch place. Bai sach chrouk, anyone?
Mini Thrill #2: Go on the roller coaster with your family instead of being the bag holder.
Mini Thrill #3: Google something you’ve long been curious about — besides what your ex is up to.
Mini Thrill #4: Make a new workout playlist, already!
Mini Thrill #5: Institute Fancy Wineglass Fridays. They’ll break eventually; might as well put ‘em to good use.
Mini Thrill #6: Dare to try a new gym class, like Piloxing (a Pilates, boxing and dance combo).
Mini Thrill #7: Find a new fantasy getaway with Mosey, an app full of hidden-gem trips.
Mini Thrill #8: Write a haiku (first line five syllables, then seven, then five). Three lines later, you’re a poet.
Mini Thrill #9: Would it kill you to wear prints?

Jun 23 / Lea Madjoff

Recommended exercises to target lower abs

army crawl

Army Crawl

Get down into a plank position, squeezing your butt, with a glider (paper plates or  towels work well too) under each foot, on the edge of your mat. Using your forearms, crawl forward about five steps, until your gliders hit the end of the mat, and then crawl back. Make sure to hold the plank position and keep legs straight and hips stable. Do this 3-5 times, counting forward and back as one full rep.

Find more exercises at